You might not be aware of it, but by using weak words and phrases in your resume, you are sabotaging your own chances of landing a great job. These employment-speak clichés can make even the most qualified candidate come across as incompetent, dull, and lacking both initiative and confidence to succeed in the workplace.
Take a minute to go through your resume line by line and see if any of these seven phrases are the reason why you haven’t received as many interviews as you’d hoped for.
1. Responsible for / In charge of
Saying that you were “responsible for” or “in charge of” something does not mean you did it well. In fact, these statements create an impression that you might be hiding some major mishaps or know next to nothing about the subject in question. So spell out what your responsibilities entailed using active verbs. For example, instead of saying “Responsible for opening and closing the store”, write “Opened and closed the store independently every day” and add any other relevant details. A small tweak like that instantly makes your profile much more attractive.
2. Duties included
Again, by using this phrase you’re essentially saying what you were supposed to do instead of what you’ve actually achieved. Your best bet here would be to shift focus from your duties to your accomplishments.
Using Curlz MT font coupled with boldface on a hot pink background will certainly make your application stand out among others; in a bad way. So in addition to ensuring that your resume is relevant and targeted to your desired position, make it eye-pleasing, or, at the very least, readable.
Unless you are a professional graphic designer, go by the “Rule of 2 or less”:
- No more than 2 fonts. – Defaults like Times New Roman, Arial and Calibri are a safe bet, while Georgia and Cambria are great for headers. And don’t go lower than 10 pt in font size.
- No more than 2 colors. – Aside from black or dark grey for the text, you may safely use light blue, grass green or some other neutral color to embellish section headers. Take care not to pick hues that are too bright, as these are distracting.
- No more than 2 types of bullets. – And only one of them should be fancy (i.e. a check box or an arrow).
- Boldfacing, italicizing, underlining and using small caps in a phrase all at once is overdoing it. Combining any two of the above-mentioned formatting tools is okay.
And here are a couple of other helpful tips:
- Regardless of how much (or how little) formatting you decide to apply, make sure you leave enough white space.
- Avoid lengthy paragraphs. Opt for bulleted lists and clearly defined sections instead.
- Make sure your formatting is consistent. That means same design of headers, same font and size for the main text, same intervals between sections and so on.
Whether you like it or not, a good old-fashioned resume, while still essential to your job hunting success, is not enough to gain you that much needed competitive advantage anymore. In today’s information-driven society, your best bet is using technology to give your professional brand an edge that will get you noticed – and hired!
Your Social Media presence
There’s no denying that Social Media has become an integral part of our everyday lives. When it comes to the job search, Social Media provides a great way for prospective employees to explore target companies and connect with insiders. However, this is a double-edged sword. Pulling up candidates’ Social Media profiles is becoming routine for many Hiring Managers. And if you want to land the job, you have to make sure that your online reputation is not only impeccable, but also supports your resume.
- Facebook – The recruiter should not see anything inappropriate or embarrassing on your public profile. That includes rude posts (especially about your current or previous place of work) and obscene photos. Also, be cautious about sharing your religious and political views.
- Twitter – The same content limitations apply here. Do take advantage of the short bio section to drill down to the details and crystallize your “elevator pitch”. And confidently include links to your portfolio, website, blog, and LinkedIn if applicable.
- LinkedIn – If you’re still not a member, get an account and make it work for you. Recruiters will check your profile to see if you’re a good cultural fit. So do be an active networker and make sure you have plenty of recommendations and endorsements.
For the creative types
Those working in the creative field, including design, marketing and even sales, should consider capitalizing on the following opportunities:
- QR codes – Use them to lead the prospective employer to your portfolio, professional blog or personal website. However, remember to check that the website works properly (including the mobile version) and provide a URL in case the HR has trouble scanning your code.
- Video and visual – Video resumes and infographics are gaining popularity, as they are a great way to attract attention to your persona and to truly stand out among other candidates. Just make sure you don’t get too carried away – no matter how good the production value, your creative resume will not score any points if the message it sends is weak or inappropriate.
Do you use technology for job hunting? Do you monitor your online presence, or stick to the tried-and-true methods? Share your experiences in our comment section!
The importance of populating your resume and LinkedIn profile with relevant keywords can’t be stressed enough. However, you shouldn’t expect an HR Manager to be well-versed in all the technical intricacies of your job. With hundreds of resumes landing on their desks each day, they simply don’t have time to look up unfamiliar terms and abbreviations.
Therefore, it’s a good idea to make the job-related jargon understandable for lay people. For example, spell out the technical terms the first time you mention them and use abbreviations later on in the document. Otherwise, you’re risking not getting past the first gatekeeper.
LinkedIn has hit a milestone with 200M+ registered users as of January 2013. Nevertheless, many people have only a vague idea as to how to use this unique tool for their career development or job search. “Do I need a LinkedIn profile?” and “Why can’t I just copy my resume into my LinkedIn profile?” are among the most popular questions that our clients ask. This post will answer these and many other LinkedIn-related inquiries and help you make your profile work for you.
Resume vs. LinkedIn – are they different?
In a word – yes. Although they both represent your professional persona, mentioning your experience, education and skills, they do it in fundamentally different ways. Think of a resume as an outbound marketing message advertising yourself. As such, it should be targeted to your desired position, concise, to the point, and emphasize your “features and benefits” as an employee.
LinkedIn on the other hand is akin to inbound marketing. It’s less formal, more flexible and offers you the freedom to let your personality shine. And while you might want to leave information about your college jobs, volunteer experiences and interests out of your resume (unless, of course, it’s relevant to the position you’re applying for), you can, and should, list it on your LinkedIn profile.
In short, your resume and LinkedIn profile complement each other. A powerful resume gets you noticed, while an effective LinkedIn profile offers recruiters an opportunity to know you better and ensure you’d be a good fit for their client/company.
It takes a Hiring Manager several seconds to scan your application and decide whether or not to consider inviting you for an interview. By cluttering your resume with information that is not relevant to the position you’re applying for, you are sabotaging your chances for landing that coveted job.
Here are some guidelines to help you improve your resume:
- There is no need to mention your high school studies if you’re a university graduate.
- Internships, college and summer jobs belong on your resume only if they are directly related to your target role, or if you have no other professional experience.
- Objectives and “References available…” are outdated and take up valuable real estate that can be used for more important information.
- Certifications, memberships and hobbies are to be mentioned cautiously. List only those that might contribute to your professional image.
- Your headshot, marital status and religious views are most likely irrelevant. In fact, many companies will remove this information from your application so it does not affect their decision one way or the other.
In this day and age, technology is an integral part of our lives. Being able to submit your job search application to dozens of companies online or reach a person on the other side of the globe in a matter of secondsis certainly very convenient. On the other hand, by shifting focus from “old-school” one-on-one interactions to electronic communication, jobseekers are robbing themselves of opportunities granted by tapping into the power of personal touch. So here are some tips on how to use that power to gain competitive advantage on the job market.
1. Drop off your resume in person
This approach might sound bold, but it’s in fact perfectly reasonable. By submitting your resume in person you demonstrate your initiative, your genuine interest in the position and your readiness to go the extra mile to achieve results – so kudos for you!
If you get a chance to talk to or at least introduce yourself to the HR – that’s perfect. However, even if they’re out or not receiving visitors, make friends with the receptionist (so they make sure that your resume reaches the right decision-maker) and don’t forget to smile and be nice to everyone else you meet (you don’t know who might end up your future interviewer, or even colleague or boss).
As a bonus, by deciding to visit in person you’ll get a feel for the general office vibe, which will help you decide if you’d be a good fit for this organization.
One thing to remember before you turn up at their door – do your research and be up-to-date on the company’s background to make a good first impression.
2. Use HR Manager’s name
Such a simple thing to do, yet so often overlooked. Make sure you use the HR Manager’s name not only in letters, but also during the interview. Better yet, memorize as many names as possible during your first visit and greet people accordingly if you happen to meet again. This way you’ll easily create rapport and show how well you can build relationships with key stakeholders. And we all know how much employers value candidates’ soft skills.
3. Send a handwritten thank you note after the interview
People rarely receive snail mail these days (unless you count promotional messages and periodicals). So with hundreds of files landing on HR’s desk (and in their e-mail inbox) every day, a handwritten note from you will be bound to stand out. If you were interviewed by more than one person, make sure you thank each of them for their time and consideration. By doing this you will demonstrate your interest yet again and boost your chances of proceeding to the next stage of the selection process.
Have you used any of these strategies in your job search? Do you have any other tips to share? Let us know in our comment section!
Even if your credentials are a perfect match for the position, you won’t be invited to the interview unless the recruiter has some way of contacting you.
- Forgetting to put your contact info on the resume sounds like a silly mistake, but it happens. Needless to say, it’s a fatal error.
- Typos in your e-mail address and phone number will definitely hinder your chances of landing a job.
- Use a professional e-mail address, preferably the one that contains your name. email@example.com or firstname.lastname@example.org and the like are appropriate for personal communication with family and friends, but they don’t belong on a resume.
- Think twice before including links to your social media profiles. Make sure that they will serve you well and contain no controversial or rude material. Portfolios, industry blogs and LinkedIn are acceptable, but only if they complement your professional image and are relevant to the position.